Culture 50

“Lost in Tunis”: exploring the city’s unseen faces

A pair of worn sneakers dangles from an electric wire stretching between telephone poles, of little consequence to the pigeons perched close by and pedestrians on the street below. How many of them look up and wonder about the shoe fixture slung overhead? This is just the sort of mundane urban detail that intrigues Mourad Ben Cheikh Ahmed, creator of the blog « Lost in Tunis ». In his most recent post, Mourad shared a series of photos accompanied by a brief explanation: « shoe tossing, or shoefiti (shoes + graffiti) is undeniably a form of street art ».

Tabarka Jazz Festival: reshaping the town’s tourism?

Eighteen miles from the Algerian border on Tunisia’s north-western coast are the rocky shores of Tabarka. Heading into town from the east, voluminous pink and white oleander border the highway. Storks stand statue-like atop their nests, perched at the top of electrical towers. A massive bronze saxophone occupies the turn-about just outside of town. Here, and pasted onto the big contrabass which sits at the harbor downtown, are sky-blue posters announcing Tabarka’s jazz festival, which takes place this year July 22 through 29. As historical as the festival is, will its come-back this year succeed in promoting Tabarka as an attractive and competitive tourist destination?

Erkiz Hip Hop : Tunisian and French rappers explore the Mezoued groove

Rappers Demi Portion, Ichon and the band 3ème Œil came from France to celebrate the World Music Day in Tunis and have shared the stage with their Tunisian counterparts, Vipa, Massi and Belhassen of the band Empire. Organized by the Tunisian collective Debo and the French Institute of Tunisia (IFT), the concert Erkiz Hip Hop, presented at the Bourguiba Avenue on June 21st, intends to reconcile the rap of both shores of the Mediterranean and gather a curious public at the crossroads of the hip-hop culture and mezoued. The first of its kind in Tunisia.

« In the era of 230 » : Artists denounce the State’s homophobia

The collective exhibition « Au temps du 230 » [In the era of 230] took place between May 17-21 in the Medina of Tunis. Organized by the feminist association Chouf which advocates for the rights of sexual minorities, the exhibition is the first of its kind in Tunisia. « Au temps du 230 » featured the work of 12 artists—painters, photographers and caricaturists—who denounce Law 230 of the penal code which criminalizes homosexuality. On the occasion of UN’s 2016 Periodic Review, Tunisia admitted the unconstitutionality of Law 230 but has made no move to abrogate it.

« Our Friends the Humans » bring science fiction and pop culture to the stage

April 25 and 26, Moncef Zahrouni and Amina Ben Doua played the role of Samira an Raouf, « two people who find themselves in a tragic situation: taken by aliens, lost in space, trapped in a cage…how will they react? what are the problems and questions to which they must find answers? » Pulling the audience between comedy and drama, caricature and suspense, Our Friends the Humans invites us to reflect on our societies, our world and ourselves.

The Tunisian body, on and off screen

The body in cinema was the theme of the 17th edition of Cinéma de la Paix? organized by the Tunisian Federation of Film Clubs (Fédération Tunisienne des Ciné-Club, FTCC) in Tunis. March 8-12, at the Quatrième Art theater downtown, cinephiles, directors, students, FTCC members old and new filled café tables and spilled out into the street, clutching programs and caricatures sketched out by an on-site cartoonist. On Sunday evening, a musical performance by Pardon My French marked the end of the festival, five days of reflections and discussions on what the body in cinema reveals about society.

Reviving the Beys

Broad-faced, imposing Qsar Essaïd in Tunis was the palace Sadok Bey, one of Tunisia’s many rulers under the Ottoman Empire. It was here where Sadok Bey adopted Qanoun Eddawla, the country’s first constitution. Two decades later, he signed the Treaty of Bardo, marking the beginning of the French protectorate. Today, sixty years after independence and six years after the revolution, Qsar Essaïd has been opened to the public with “The Awakening of a Nation,” an exhibition on a period of Tunisia’s history (1837-1881) that modern regimes preferred to forget.

What authorities don’t say, cinema does: « Life is short » in Gabes

From the center of Gabes, a 365-degree view of the city offers a stunning panorama of the world’s only seaside oasis, an urban setting scattered with green-grey palm trees, a blue-grey sea, and, jutting up from the main port, the Tunisian Chemical Group’s sky-high factory topped by thick plumes of smoke. It is a grey December morning on the weekend of Gabes’ short-film festival, “Life is short.” Even in the midst of a three-day cultural event animated by film directors, artists, university students, and cinephiles, the unsettling omnipresence of the factory close by inspires the festival’s title with sharp irony.

Carthage Festival’s Urban Session : One swallow doesn’t make a summer

For its 52nd annual production, the Carthage International Festival diverged from its regular programming and held an “Urban Session” at L’Agora in La Marsa. In a country where the freedom of speech and self-expression was suppressed for so long, Urban Session’s performances were not lacking subversive undertones. However, the social acceptability of hip hop and urban art by the general public is far from being considered “mainstream”. One swallow doesn’t make a summer.

Status quo, or legal status for artists in Tunisia?

At roundtable events in the presence of EU funders and Tunisians who work in art and culture, the Ministry of Culture affirms that it has moved beyond words and is in the phase of action. With European Union’s recent designation of four million euros to the sector, the question remains whether or not such support will accompany the implementation of new policies, and specifically a framework ensuring the social and economic security of artists in Tunisia.

Shakespeare in Médenine

The 20th edition of the National Festival of Experimental Theatre of Médenine is the first of these seasonal events. Coinciding with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, this year’s festival is dedicated to the British poet and playwright. For one week, the stage will be set for plays—of varying degrees of intensity and fidelity—dealing with Shakespearean themes and characters.

Theater and politics in the streets of El Kef: a reportage from the 24hours non-stop Theater Festival

Just after few days from the end of a Jazz Festival, the city of El Kef hosted one of the most important artistic event of the country, the “24-hours theatre non-stop”. The event took place in the frame of a theatre festival which lasted from the 23rd to the 28th of March, and which included, a part from theatre and music spectacles, seminars and workshop on dramatic arts.